Coaching Changes for UCF Football Have a Familiar Feel

It is an uncommon feat in coaching to regain the same job you once had.  So you know UCF head coach George O’Leary has supreme confidence in former UCF defensive coordinator John Skladany when he named him to the same position Friday.

Skladany was the defensive coordinator at UCF in 2007, went to Houston for two seasons, and returned to the Knights as linebackers coach this past year.  Al Seamonson was also brought onto the staff to fill the vacated linebackers job after coaching the position for the last ten years at Maryland.

“I like people that have stability, that know what I want done,” said O’Leary.  “I don’t need the wheel reinvented.  I pretty much know a little bit about defense myself.  I want people that understand how the program runs and what the expectations are.”

Presiding over a core of veteran linebackers this past season, Skladany was able to contribute to a defense that was in the top 20 nationally in total defense.  His starting linebackers racked up 269 tackles as a unit.

The move of Dave Huxtable to Wisconsin opened the door for Skladany.  In addition to UCF, he has also been a defensive coordinator at Houston, Iowa State, and Ohio.

“I’m very excited,” said Skladany.   “I am very appreciative of Coach O’Leary giving me the opportunity to be a coordinator again.  I hope we can do our very best to carry on what Coach Huxtable and everybody has been doing the last few years, just playing really good defense.  We’ll chase that championship and see if we can’t do it again.”

While the reclaiming the defensive coordinator position may have seemed unlikely for Skaldany, hiring someone with the familiar ties Seamonson has is coaching commonplace.  The new linebackers coach was at the Citadel from 1988-1999 and most of those years were under the direction of UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe.

In his time at Maryland, he served under Ralph Friedgen, O’Leary’s former offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech.

“Of course Ralph [Friedgen] called and recommended [Seamonson],” said O’Leary. “I had a number of people calling throughout the country trying to get in to the jobs here.  When you sift through it all you like to have people that have prior work with people you know.”

O’Leary also liked that Seamonson was a special teams coordinator in addition to his linebacking duties at the Citadel.  He was actually a wide receiver at Wisconsin, but after his playing career his coach recommended he diversify by coaching on the defensive side of the ball.

At Maryland, Seamonson coached future NFL linebackers like E.J. Henderson, D’Qwell Jackson, and Shawne Merriman.  At UCF, he is hoping to help continue the elevation of the program.

“I’ve known Central Florida for a long time,” said Seamonson.  “I’ve always thought Central Florida was a goldmine opportunity.  Obviously, they have done a great job in Conference USA.  The opportunity for Central Florida to continue to grow and be a tremendous program is there.”

Seamonson says he is going to be hitting the ground running with Skladany and the other coaches in preparation for National Signing Day next week.  He recapped his ample experience recruiting across Florida and says he has recently been focused on the Space Coast area and northern Florida with the Terrapins.

With little turnover on the coaching staff it is expected to be a smooth transition through recruiting and beyond.

“The system will stay as it is,” said Skladany.  “We may tweak a few things, but if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.  It’s been pretty successful, so I think we feel comfortable with what we have and the direction we are going.”


News & Notes

  • As far as recruiting, Seamonson can expect to have a full plate from the start.  Rivals four star linebacker Leilon Willingham is on his official visit this weekend with high school teammate Rayshon Williams, the cousin of former Knight and Miami Dolphin Brandon Marshall.  According to new recruiting rankings out Thursday, UCF stands 50th in the country.
  • Wide Receiver Nico Flores has left the football team and decided to transfer to Norfolk State.  Flores originally started his Knight career as a quarterback, and was 0-3 passing along with six carries for 48 yards as he tried to take snaps in the wildcat formation this past season.  The Virginian-Pilot reported he will have a chance to compete to be starting quarterback with incumbent senior Chris Walley.
  • Two Sundays from now could mark a noteworthy moment for UCF players in the NFL.  Green Bay’s Josh Sitton and Atari Bigby stand poised to be the first two Knights to play in the same Super Bowl.  Sitton had a standout year as an offensive lineman and won the fan vote for the NFL Pro Bowl.  Bigby missed the first eight weeks of season and has played sparingly the rest of the season.